My apologies for the late start today, everybody. Yours truly has been a bit under the weather today, so I haven't been able to get to a whole lot before now. Also, the next version of the Mock Draft Database will be up by Sunday morning since I missed getting it up there on Saturday morning, which is the usual time.
It's no secret that, whether the Minnesota Vikings retain Percy Harvin or not, they need to do significantly more upgrading to the wide receiver position. In the free agent class of 2013, there are three receivers that appear to have the ability to fill the void that the Vikings have. . .a receiver that can line up on the outside, get open on a regular basis, and make the tough catches. They each have their own advantages. . .however, they each have their own red flags as well.
The first of these three receivers is Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wallace is the youngest of the three players on this list, turning 27 on August 1. He also has the best speed of the three players we'll look at. In 2010 and 2011, Wallace put up some very impressive numbers, averaging 1,225 yards and about 18.5 yards/catch in those two seasons. However, prior to the 2012 season, he demanded a new deal from the Steelers, and wound up holding out, not reporting to the team until after training camp had finished. As a result, he had a somewhat disappointing 2012, at least in comparison to the previous two seasons. Wallace probably has the most remaining upside of any of the big-name wide receivers available, but he might have a bit of an attitude problem, and if the Vikings want to pursue him, they'll have to decide whether they think he's the 2010-11 Mike Wallace or the Mike Wallace of this past season.
Next up is Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Bowe is the biggest wide receiver of the "big three," at 6'2" and about 220 pounds. He had a fairly disappointing 2012. . .but you can say that about a lot of players on a Chiefs team that wound up with the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 13 of 16 games for the Chiefs this year, and caught 59 passes for 801 yards. Bowe isn't really much of a "field stretcher," and he's only had double-digit touchdown receptions once in his six NFL seasons (2010, when he led the NFL with 15 touchdown grabs). He also may or may not be one bad urine test away from a one-year suspension from the National Football League, having served a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy back in 2009. As far as age is concerned, Bowe turns 29 in September.
The last of the "big three" is former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings. Now, all OMG THE VIKINGS ARE GOING TO SIGN ANOTHER PACKER garbage aside, Jennings has been a pretty solid receiver over his career for the most part. Jennings is the oldest of these three receivers, as he'll turn 30 on the same day that Bowe turns 29. He's averaged a little more than 15 yards a catch over his career, and is a very good yards after catch receiver. There are a couple of problems with him, however. The big one is the fact that, over the past two seasons, he's missed 11 games due to a variety of injuries. He missed three games in 2011, and missed eight more this past season. The other issue is that many experts feel that he's more effective as a slot type of receiver as opposed to an outside guy. . .and if the Vikings keep Percy Harvin and/or give him a new deal, that would be a whole lot of money to spend on slot type wide receivers.
I'm not sure if the Vikings have any plans to pursue any of these receivers. . .but, in my opinion, these are the three biggest (potentially) available names in free agency at the Vikings' biggest position of need. Like I said, they each have their positives, and they each have their negatives. Which of them would you want the Vikings to pursue. . .or would you rather they not pursue any of them?